The idea of establishing a Data Commons as a means to put these principles into action was first proposed by James Mansell in April 2015, in a report to the New Zealand Productivity Commission called Handing Back the Social Commons. Since then, the idea of establishing a Data Commons for New Zealand has generated a growing amount of interest and offers of support.
In June 2016 the New Zealand Data Futures Partnership, the NEXT Foundation, the Bioheritage Science Challenge, and Infection agreed to co- fund the development of a blueprint for an alternative model to enable data sharing in New Zealand.
The project had two deliverables:
Firstly, the formation of a network of interested volunteers in New Zealand who have a range of technical expertise and a deep interest in data integration and reuse. EXP Ltd (part of the Enspiral collective) was contracted to convene an open conversation, using online tools such as Loomio and Gitbooks, a series of workshops and interviews, and a two-day retreat with this group of volunteers.
The outcome of those conversations was the second deliverable, the Data Commons Blueprint, where we outline the conceptual thinking behind the idea of a “Data Commons” approach. We describe the high-level design features that will make it work, and outline the steps required to build one.
In preparing this document, the working group’s goal was to provide what we believe is a safer, lower-cost and higher-value alternative to the current approaches to the challenge of data integration and reuse. While there is still much work to be done, we believe this document establishes a model that is worth further investigation. The technical experts involved consider it to be relatively low-cost and technically feasible to prototype.
The New Zealand Data Commons Blueprint is published under an open Creative Commons license so that other people can extend the conversation. We are not the only group trying to solve the dilemma of how to use integrated data for public, economic, scientifc and environmental good while at the same time managing the significant risks inherent in doing so.